OAS Concerned about Political Stalemate in Haiti

Haiti strike
People walk in a street left empty by a nationwide strike demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

The Organization of American States (OAS) said on Tuesday that its General Secretariat was “closely monitoring the current situation in Haiti,” and that it was “concerned with the respect for human rights and the independence of powers”.

“The OAS General Secretariat has an essential interest in the protection of democratic institutions and the political rights of its citizens,” said the OAS in a statement.

“It is fundamental that state institutions work together to resolve the problems afflicting Haiti. We call for democratic structural changes in Haiti through the discussion of a new Constitution and an effective participation in general elections this year.”

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The OAS said that its General Secretariat “renews its support for the electoral process as the only option consistent with the Democratic Charter to replace the current constitutional President with another President on February 7, 2022”.

On Monday, opposition parties in Haiti declared 72-year-old judge Joseph Mecene Jean-Louis the country’s interim leader, a day after an alleged coup plot was foiled, as they insisted that President Jovenel Moise must step down.

In a video message, Jean-Louis, the longest-serving judge in the Supreme Court, said he “accepted the choice of the opposition and civil society, to serve (his) country as interim president for the transition”.

Moise, who has ruled by decree since mid-January, has stated he would hand over power to the winner of the elections but would not step down until his term expires in 2022.

But the opposition has rejected his interpretation of the constitution and has insisted his term came to an end on Sunday.

“We are waiting for Jovenel Moise to leave the National Palace, so that we can get on with installing Mr. Mecene Jean-Louis,” opposition figure Andre Michel told international news agency AFP. Former senator Youri Latortue said that the transition period was expected to last around 24 months.

On Saturday, Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke co-led a letter with US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Congressman Gregory Meeks to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urging the Biden administration to “unambiguously reject the undemocratic actions of President (Jovenel) Moïse to retain power in Haiti.”

Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, said the letter was supported by a number of their congressional colleagues.

In their letter, Clarke and Meeks, who represents the 5th Congressional District in Queens, New York, congratulated Blinken’s confirmation as the new US Secretary of State, stating that they “look forward to reclaiming America’s moral leadership on the world stage.

“In that spirit, we write to express great concern about ongoing developments in Haiti,” they said. “As Members of Congress, who believe deeply in democracy and the rule of law. We feel it is essential that the United States unambiguously reject any attempt by President Moïse to retain power in contravention of those principles.

“The time for a Haitian-led democratic transition is now,” Clarke and Meeks stressed. “We cannot parse words: President Moïse has lost credibility. He has been ruling by decree since January 2020, and although he pays homage to forthcoming elections, he insists they can only occur after the completion of dubious constitutional reforms.”

Meanwhile, the US lawmakers said Haiti remains gripped in “a cascade of economic, public health and political crises.”

US government called on the Haitian administration to hold talks to resolve the crisis, saying that a newly-elected president should succeed President Moise when his term ends on February 2, 2022.




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